Summary: The skyship Devayani, carrying Vikram, Eeesekee, and Harthuk, returns to the jungle. The party is reunited when Vi is able to locate both the skyship and Ganjan. A great deal of catching-up follows, and plans are made to seek out the village where M’rina and her mentor Daugma were taken captive. All remain on the skyship overnight to observe the fires of the anole tribesmen in order to pinpoint the village’s location. The next day, they are set down near the gates of the city, and M’rina attempts to backtrack. She is ultimately successful, and the party is confronted by three anole tribesmen who soon become five. Arjuna barters with them, telling them he will sell M’rina and Harthuk, but that he wants Daugma as well. The tribesmen are agreeable, showing him their crystals and other treasures, but indicate that Daugma has been sold to another tribe. At this point Arjuna attacks, and after a quick battle, all the warriors are killed. In the village, the non-combatants are fleeing, guarded by the chief. Arjuna attacks one of these to force the chief to deal with him, which he does — he nearly kills Arjuna, who is only saved by the quick actions of Ganjan, who kills the chief, and Kailua, who heals Arjuna. The spirit sir’hibas confronts Kailua while she is conducting the healing ritual in the Dream, and demands to know when her bones will be laid to rest. Kailua tells her it will be soon. M’rina fails to find any of her belongings, and the party is left with no clear indication of how to find Daugma.
Story Points: 1
Vikram, Eeesekee and Harthuk head for Sisupal on the skyship Devayani, with Yadhish Ejihn in command. They arrive in the general area where the others were dropped off around mid-day.
Meanwhile, having found a majority of the ancient sir’hibas’s bones and as many pieces of the broken crystal tablet as they are likely to get without fighting a huge army of blind suthra, the rest of the party exits the tunnels connected to the palace on top of the bluff where they spent the previous night. Krista and Keta, the blue macaw who is a rigger from the Devayani, take a quick look around, but don’t see anything from the air. Ganjan signals to the makdi Vi by using a bullroarer that he whirls in the air.
After about half an hour, Vi appears and is very happy to see Ganjan. She insists that he climb on her back, and when he does, she takes off immediately, flying quickly and purposefully in a particular direction. Ganjan, disoriented and hanging on for dear life, does not see where she is taking him until she is almost there — Vi has found the Devayani, and she lands aboard the rapidly-cleared deck. She seeks out the suthra master and explores his pockets for treats while Ganjan reports to the captain and greets his friends.
Ganjan guides the skyship to the clearing where the others are waiting, and everyone is brought aboard. Each group brings the other up to date on current events. When Arjuna hears what Jyoti has been up to, he breaks into a laugh, which is both startling and unnerving. M’rina is introduced to everyone and given clothing from the ship’s stores. With great relief on both sides, she returns Krista’s cloak. Kailua, Eeesekee, and Vikram discuss the spirit sir’hibas — what type of spirit she might be, what her motives are, and whether she is a demon. Although they conclude she is probably not, Eeesekee still feels anxious and slightly sick about the whole situation.
Captain Ejihn approaches Ganjan and asks about picking up Rakesh, who was left at the palace. Ganjan flies Vi down to retrieve him. Rakesh is in fine spirits, although he says that he has not seen the gardener since the rest left. Food was left for him, however, so he knows the reclusive jánah is still around. He also reports that there were high winds at the setting and rising of the suns. Before they leave, he reminds Ganjan of Vi’s little cache of treasures, which Ganjan packs up for her. Among them is another piece of the crystal tablet, which M’rina is very pleased to get.
All stay aboard the skyship that night. The campfires below give M’rina enough information that she is able to figure out where the tribe that captured her is located. Arjuna takes this opportunity to write a letter in Hardazi, but does not reveal who it’s for or what it says.
The next morning, the skyship drops them off just in front of the city so that M’rina can retrace her steps to the anole camp where she and Daugma were held. Krista assists her, though his help is almost more annoying than useful. After some time they find a trail that seems reasonably well-used. M’rina is fairly sure she is in the right place, and this is confirmed when three anole tribesmen emerge from the vegetation to bar their way. After some initial confusion, Arjuna begins to bargain with the three, who are soon joined by two more.
The anoles are dressed in loincloths and their upper bodies are marked with red and yellow paint. They carry spears and what appear to be knives in sheaths hung on cords tied around their waists. They gesture to M’rina, making it clear that they want her returned. Arjuna agrees to this, and indicates that he will give them the mouse Harthuk as well, but demands to know what they will pay. They show him crystals, which he refuses. One of the warriors goes and gets a wooden box that contains pieces of inscribed stone. The writing resembles what was seen in Sisupal.
Arjuna has Eeesekee draw a rough sketch of a dog jennu in the dirt, and asks the anoles what happened to him. One of the tribesmen draws a village on the ground, and a line from Daugma to that village, indicating that he has been sold to another tribe.
At this point Arjuna concludes he has gotten as much information as he can and attacks. The anoles are surprised and he wounds one immediately. Everyone joins in, with the exception of Harthuk and M’rina, who climbed a tree when Arjuna started using them as bargaining chips, and Eeesekee, who tries to ask Kailua about the healing ritual. Kailua tells him that he will most likely be able to see it soon enough, and wades into the fight.
After a short time, the anoles are all killed. From their vantage point, Harthuk and M’rina can see that the village is nearby, and that the tribe is quickly packing in order to escape. Vikram flies over to the village and gives a little speech of apology for the attack, and is hit in the shoulder with a spear for his trouble. He is forced to return to be tended by Kailua.
Meanwhile, Ganjan and Arjuna sneak over to the village. They also see the villagers preparing to leave, and one last warrior, whom they assume must be the chief because of his elaborate dress and decorations. Arjuna attacks one of the villagers, and the chief turns to meet him. Ganjan, disgusted by Arjuna’s dishonorable blow against an unarmed tribesman, remains in hiding. Arjuna, perhaps made overconfident by the easy victory against the other warriors, is surprised by the ferocity of the anole’s attack. After a flurry of blows, the anole strikes him down with one great spear thrust, bringing him close to death. Ganjan springs from cover to intervene. He manages to bring down the chief and hurriedly stops Arjuna’s bleeding. He then attempts to staunch the chief’s bleeding as well, considering him an honorable foe, but in his haste he mortally wounds him instead.
Kailua and the others hurry into the clearing. As M’rina searches for any signs of her belongings, Kailua goes into the healing ritual. Eeesekee accompanies her, hoping to learn more. With great skill Kailua heals Arjuna’s wounds, leaving no trace of his terrible injuries save for the great quantitites of blood. Eeesekee pays close attention.
While still in the Dream, Kailua is accosted by the spirit of the sir’hibas, demanding to know why she has not yet laid her bones to rest. The spirit can tell that Kailua carries her remains, and is upset by the delay. Kailua promises her that this will be done soon, and the spirit seems mollified by her words. Eeesekee examines the spirit closely, and concludes that she is not a demon. However, as with most ancient Sarpah sir’hibas, it is clear that she has had dealings with them at some point — there is a certain texture to her essence that makes him uneasy. Vikram also enters the Dream and observes the spirit, who, after one glance, ignores him altogether.
M’rina’s search is ultimately unsuccessful. With no living tribesmen to question, her possessions and Daugma’s whereabouts are equally unknown.